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THe plight of Burmese Women

This  document  will  be  submitted by  Burmese  Women  Union  at  the 
4th  UN  conferance on  Women, Beijing  conference 
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Prepared and distributed by Burmese Women Union for
the Fourth UN Confenence on Women , Beijing,
September 1995.
* Burmese Women's Union(BWU), August 1995
The Plight of Burmese Women
Published by
Burmese Women Union(BWU)
P.O Box 1352, G.P.O
Bangkok 1051
E-Mail :  caroline@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Funded by
National Coaliation Government of Union of Burma(NCGUB)
Information Office
Washington, USA
(The Burmese Women Union(BWU) was founded in January 1995 by a 
group of women who are actively opposed to the military dictatorship and 
arrived in the liberated areas after the 1988 bloody military coup.  The 
BWU is politically independent organization and not under the control of 
any politial party or organization.  Any Burmese women who belives in 
the aims and objectives of the BWU can become a member of the BWU 
regardless of  their ethnic origin or political belife.  The aims and 
objectives of the BWU are;(1) To promote the role of the Burmese 
women in politics, (2) To practise women's rights recognised by the 
standard of international community and distribute them among Burmese 
society and (3) To apply the physical and intellectual power of the 
women so that it will assist and support the emergence of a modern, 
advanced, peaceful and a new democratic union in Burma.)
Printed in Singapore
 I. Introduction
II. Women inside Burma
        - Political Detention, arbitrary arrest and unfaire political trials
III. The plight of Burmese women in the border areas
        - Extrajudicial execution and ill-treatment against women
        - Forced relocation
        - Forced porterage
        - Forced labor for military purposes
        - Forced labor in "Development Projects"
        - Rape and sexual abuses
IV. Refugee women 
V. Burmese asylum seekers in Thailand
VI. Trafficking of Burmese women into Thailand
VII. Conclusion
Appendix I
"The Plight of Burmese Women Role of Female Students During 1988 
Uprising," a paper submitted at Berlin International Burma Conference in 
April 1993 by Mi Sue Pwint, one of the Organizing Committee members 
of BWU.
Appendix II
"The Women of Burma; Holding Up Two-Third of the Sky" by Eugene 
Thaike Yawnghwe ( Canada)
Appendix III
"And What About the Women of Burma?" by Janis E.Nickel (Burma 
Issue, Thailand)
Appendix IV
"Assistance is Inappropriate for Burma" by Nyein Han
Appendix V
"Burma's AIDS Epidemic" by Edith T. Mirante (Project Maje, USA)
Appendix VI 
Excerpt from"Modern Form of Slavery: Trafficking of Burmese Women 
and Girls into Brothels in Thailand" by Asia Watch (New York, USA)
Appendix VII
"Women in Politics" by Burma Information Group (BIG, Thailand)
        Since the military, known as State Law and Order Restoration 
Council (SLORC)  took power in September 1988, human rights are 
grossly and persistently violated throughout Burma. The victims come 
from every section of society, and every ethnic and religious group. 
People are detained because of their political, religious or other 
conscientiously-held beliefs or because of their ethnic origin, sex color 
language, who have neither used nor advocated violence. Opposition to 
the military regime has been systematically suppressed. Many political 
prisoners have been detained under equally draconian laws in violation of 
international human rights and legal standards. The law most commonly 
used to detain political activists are the 1950 Emergency Provisions Act, 
which allows for imprisonment for up to seven years if anyone "infringes 
upon the integrity, health, conduct and respect of state or military 
organizations... or spreads false news about the government"; the 1957 
Unlawful Associations Act, which allows for imprisonment of up to five 
years for anyone who has been a member of, or assisted, any 
organizations "  which encourages or aids persons to commit acts of 
violence or intimidation "; Section 121, 122-1 and 124 of the 1957 Penal 
Code, which allow for death, life or seven years' imprisonment for 
anyone committing high treason, or misprision of high treason; the 1962 
Printers' and Publishers' Registration Act (amended in 1989) which 
allows for imprisonment for up to five years for anyone with a permit 
who publishes material which "oppose the Slorc... insult, slanders or 
attempts to divide the Defense Forces"; and the 1975 State Protection 
        Those who have been jailed,  many faced unfair trials and 
sometimes with no trial at all. Many have been tortured or have suffered 
other forms of ill-treatment. The military continues to detain civilian, 
including women and youth to work as porters or as forced laborers, 
especially on infrastructure projects. SLORC continues to be responsible 
for arbitrary detention; torture; and denials of freedom of association, 
expression, and assembly. In ethnic minority areas where the military  
confronts armed insurgency, defenseless civilians have been arbitrarily 
arrested, tortured and killed. 
Political Detention, arbitrary arrest and unfair political trials
        Since the beginning of uprising calling for democracy and 
human rights in Burma, women have been taking part actively. Many of 
the hundreds of thousands of women were arrested, any eyewitnesses 
reported that a number were killed by the security forces. The most 
prominent figure,  Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, 1991 Nobel Peace Prize 
winner, has become a "national leader of Burma" and put under house 
arrest in 1989. After spending six years of house arrest, she was 
on July 10, 1995, a day before the end of her period of detention under 
Burmese law.
        Although Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's recent release, many human 
rights organizations estimate that at least 1,000 political prisoners 
in Burmese jails, including sixteen members of parliament elected in 
1990. Many political prisoners are held without charge or trial under 
administrative detention provision. For those who have been charged and 
brought before the courts have been denied the right to the most basic 
elements of legal protection. They have been convicted under laws which 
criminalize peaceful political activity and provide for trials which fall 
short of internationally-accepted standards for fair trial. SLORC 
established military tribunals in July 1989 and these tribunals were 
the authority to waive "unnecessary" witnesses, indict offenders with 
hearing prosecution witnesses and reject the recalling of witness who 
have already testified. There is no right of judicial appeal against the 
sentences of these tribunals. In some cases, political prisoners are 
within prison compounds. The defendant has no access to lawyers or 
independent witnesses. 
        Conditions in Burmese jails are extremely poor conditions 
which constitutes a pattern of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. 
Conditions are particularly bad in Insein, Thayet and Tharawaddy prisons 
where hundreds of political prisoners are held. Prisoners are routinely 
restrained by shackles, deprived of sleep food and water, and held in 
extremely overcrowded cells with poor sanitation. They rarely receive any 
medical treatment for diseases which are common in Burmese prisons, 
including malaria, skin conditions, and dysentery. Political prisoners 
also subject to torture and ill-treatment, particularly during 
in the initial phrase of detention. A numbers of political prisoners have 
died during their detention due to the torture and ill-treatment.
        Among the political prisoners,  some are women who arrested 
for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association and 
the right to take part in the government of the country.
  Dr. Ma Thida, a medical doctor and short story writer, 
age 27 while she was working in a philanthropic Muslim 
Hospital, was arrested with ten other political activists on 
7 August 1993. She and the other were allegedly held 
without access to friends or lawyers until their trial 
started on September 27, 1993. Slorc had to change the 
date of court hearing when many people turned up at the 
court. On October 15, she was sentenced to twenty years 
in prison. She was convicted under emergency 
regulations for among other charges. contact with illegal 
organizations and distributing prohibited literature. Ma 
Thida was a closed associate of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi 
before she was placed under house arrest in July 1989. 
She is become well-known for her short stories and has 
written novels but they have not been published. Slorc is 
now banning her from publishing her latest novel after 
they had already given permission to publish. She is 
being punished solely for her political views and 
peaceful activities.
  Another writer and member of National League for 
Democracy (NLD) Central Committee, San San Nwe 
(Tharawaddy) was arrested in August 1994 for passing 
"fabricated news" to foreign media and embassies and 
distributing "documents of expatriate groups." She was 
sentenced to ten years. She was tried under the 1950 
Emergency Provisions Act and the 1957 Unlawful 
Associations Act. She was a well-known journalist  and 
the author of over five hundred short stories, twelve 
novels, and over a hundred poems. She was arrested in 
July 1989 with the allegation of creating unrest and 
released in April 1990.
  On February 20, 1995 several students were arrested 
during the funeral of U Nu, who was Prime Minister 
until the military coup of 1962. The students started 
singing a pro-democracy song during the funeral 
procession and were immediately arrested. On April 28, 
nine of those arrested, including three female students, 
Ma Moe Kalayar, Ma Aye Moe and Ma Cho Nwe Oo 
were sentenced to seven years in prison under Section 
5(j) of the Emergency Provision Act. 
        The military has committed human rights violations in the 
context of its counter-insurgency activities against various armed ethnic 
minority groups, who have been struggling for greater autonomy since 
1949 after Burma gained independence from the British. Gross human 
rights abuses, including torture and extrajudicial executions, have 
undoubtedly been committed by military in Burma's long-running civil 
and ethnic conflicts. The ethnic people suffer as a result of human 
abuses committed during Tatmadaw operations, especially during the 
forced relocation of villages, enforced portering and the seizure of land 
and property. These abuses have included extrajudicial executions, 
arbitrary arrest, torture, beating , rape and forced porterage.
Extrajudicial execution and ill-treatment against women
        In August 1992, SLORC acceded to the four Geneva 
Conventions of 1949, which establish the internationally-recognized 
minimum humane standards of conduct to be observed in situations of 
inernal or external armed conflicts. Common Article 3 of the Geneva 
Conventions, which applies to all parties to an internal armed conflicts, 
specifies the following minimum standards: "(1) Person taking no active 
part in the hostilities... shall in all circumstances be treated 
With respect to non-combatants, Common Article 3 prohibits, among 
other things: 
        "(a) violation to life and person, in particular murder of all 
kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture: 
         (b) taking of hostages;
         (c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating 
and degrading treatment.."
        The Burmese military is legally bound under international law 
to ensure that the principles enshrined in Common Article 3 are adhered 
to and that all civilians are protected from attack, including torture 
extrajudicial executions. In reality, the arrest, extrajudicial 
execution, and 
other forms of human rights violations are well-documented by 
international human rights organizations.
        Women and children are the most vulnerable victims of human 
rights violations by the military in the war-zone. There is a clear 
that the majority of the refugees from Burma who have fled Thailand to 
take refuge are women and their children. The global situation of women 
is inflected in Burma; most of the casualties of  war are women and their 
children; most of the refugees and displace people are women and their 
children; most of the poor are women and their children in Burma. Over 
the years there have been many reports of the arbitrary arrest, shooting 
extrajudicial execution of women in ethnic minority villages.
  In December 1990, for example, a Buddhist Karen 
women from Ti Pa Htoda village, Thaton district, 
described how troops had just shot and killed her 16-
year-old sister Pe Po for no apparent reason. The girl was 
returning home through the forest with a group of other 
dancers from a religious festivals. Fearing further 
shootings, many of the women villagers fled to refugee 
camps on the Thai border, while the men remained in 
hiding in the forests to try to farm their fields.
        In many cases, soldiers made no attempt to established the 
identities or status of their victims before killing them. Women 
become the victims of  mistreatment by the military  as they could not 
  A refugee from a village near Kyeikdon, Mon State said 
that in February 1992, a group of about ten soldiers 
entered her village and murdered two of her relatives 
without warning " The soldiers were patrolling in the 
area all the time, trying to flush out any KNU troops still 
around... When we heard that they were coming everyone 
ran away. My mother and sister and a local boy ran to 
hide in one of the huts in the fields... The Burmese 
soldiers surrounded the small hut when they realized that 
there were people hiding there. They didn't give them a 
chance to come out though- they just started shooting. I 
found my sister's body later. She had been shot from 
underneath through the bamboo floor, and the bullet had 
gone right through her chest. Her body was slumped over 
a sack of rice. The boy leapt down and started to run, but 
he was hit in the ankle. After he fell, the soldiers went up 
to him and stabbed him in the chest with a bayonet. My 
mother wasn't hurt; she was still cowering in the hut 
when we found her.
        Women are subject to torture or sexually harassment if their 
close relatives are suspected of being members or sympathizers of the 
ethnic armed groups.
  Paw Muh Der Village is in an area of steep high hills and 
thick forest in Papun Township, Karen State. It has only 
24 houses, 143 people, all simple farmers. It is only one 
hour walk from the Say Day Camp of SLORC IB 59 
based in Kyauk Kyi. On 3 March,1992, 2nd Column of 
that IB 59 led by Column Commander Maj Aung San Oo 
came to the village. As soon as the villagers knew they 
were there they tried to escape to the jungle, without 
being able to take anything with them. The troops stayed 
in the village for three days, during which they held 19 
villagers hostage  two men, seven women and ten 
children. Naw Lay Swai, age 75, was reportedly kept tied 
naked to a tree. The other men, women, and children 
were detained for three days.  [source: KNU/ABSDF]
        Another Karen woman from Kyauk Kyi Township, Pegu 
Division told her story how she was abused by the military for her 
husband suspected as the KNU soldier. She was detained and 
interrogated several times about her husband. 
  On January 12, 1993 at about 7 p.m. during the Karen 
New Year celebrations, SLORC troops from IB 60 came 
to Po Lo No Po Village [Burmese: Kyun Gone Village] 
in Kyauk Kyi Township, Pegu Division, and surrounded 
N's house. They tied up her father and her at gunpoint 
and dragged them outside, where she was tied to a mango 
tree and surrounded by five armed soldiers. They 
interrogated her about her husband and threatened her all 
 Her husband S was a cattle trader and had run his 
business in the area controlled by the KNU since 
November 1993. Because of his business in that area, 
SLORC troops accused him of having contact with KNU 
and frequently tried to arrest him since then.
 The next day they released her father but took her to In 
Net village, and then brought her to the MI office in 
Kyauk Kyi. They detained her there and forced to cook 
for them for two days. They asked her about her husband 
and she explained them she didn't know where he was 
and that the accusation on her husband was not true. 
After two days they took her to IB 60 headquarters and 
put her under guard. She said that while there, she saw 
about thirty other villagers from nearby villages who were 
held. The next day she was released after signing a bond.
On arriving home, she learned that her relatives had to 
pay 6,600 Ks and three bags of rice for her release. She 
also found that while she had been gone the soldiers had 
destroyed her house and driven her relatives out of the 
village. She took her children and lived in a hut in the 
forest for temporary shelter, and then moved to a safer 
place to escape from further ill-treatment by SLORC. 
Most of her relatives moved to other villages as well.  
(Source:  KHRG)
        In another case, Naw K'ser Paw, 38-year-old Karen mother of 
six children was arrested, tortured and forced to work in the detention 
her husband who was suspected as the Karen soldier. 
  "I was arrested at the start of 1994. The SLORC soldiers 
surrounded the house, called us to come out and said "If 
you don't come out we'll drag you out!" Then they started 
to punch me.
 They tried to punch me in the face but they missed, then 
they tried to punch me in my back but instead of me they 
hit my baby son in the head. I thought he was going to 
die. He wasn't even breathing. There was also a man 
staying at our house to protect us, and they hit him with a 
gun about ten times. There were about two hundred 
soldiers  that's a lot! Their commander was Major Myo 
Tint. They tied us up and took us to the headman's house 
in the village.
 At the same time they took all our cattle. They kept us 
there one night, then the next day they took us to Tat Tu 
Camp. Along the way they made me and my baby son sit 
under a hut for about four hours. They did not give us 
any food. When we arrived at Tat Tu they asked me a lot 
of questions about my husband and then put us in the 
jail. The next morning they took us to a bigger jail in Tat 
Tu, where they kept us for eight days. Then they took us 
to Tham Bo camp.
 At Tham Bo camp we had to work starting at 6 a.m., 
clearing the bushes and cleaning around the senior 
officers' houses. We had to make fences around their 
houses, cut wood and carry water. There were many 
others being held prisoner like us, not only Karen but 
Burmese too. There was one group of twenty-four people 
they arrested all together. Then twenty of them were 
released and only four of them were left. Everybody had 
to work, Burmese, Karen, everybody. The soldiers hit me 
on my back and kicked me in the head. The only food we 
had was sent to us from our village; it wasn't SLORC's 
food. Sometimes we only had rice, not even any fishpaste 
or salt.
 After three months at Tham Bo they took us to the police 
camp at Ler Doh for one night and one day without food. 
Then they took us to the court [she probably means the 
township LORC office]. At the court they told us "We 
arrested you because of your husbands, not because of 
yourselves. Because your husbands are very bad men. We 
need to kill them, though in a way I do not want to kill 
them." Then I had to pay 16,000 Ks to Ye Soe. He is the 
superior of Major Myo Tint, who arrested me. I also had 
to pay 2,400 Ks when we were at the police station. They 
told us if we didn't give them the money they asked for 
they'd put us back in prison, so we had to give them 
everything because we couldn't bear to stay there 
anymore. Then they released us.
We always had to keep running from SLORC. Only two 
of my children went to school, one girl and one boy. 
They just started school for two days, then we had to 
move. Since we've arrived here we've been sick all the 
time, so we can't do anything. The mother has to care for 
her sick children, and the children have to care for their 
sick mother. We can't get any food so we have to buy it, 
and now we've run out of money." (KHRG)
        Women are sometimes used as the hostages to replace with the 
men for forced porter. Military took hostages of  women and summon the 
men to replace with them when they could not get arrest any men in the 
  On November 26, SLORC troops from LIB 410 led by 
Capt. Than Wai forced thirty females  including those 
are at the age of 75  to stand under the scorching sun all 
day long because they could not find any men in the 
Thirty women who were forced to stand under the 
scorching sun were; Ma Tin Nyan (19), Ma Thein (21), 
Mat Tut (27), Ma Hla Kyi (32), Ma In (32), Daw Ya (42), 
Daw Kayin (50), Daw Kun (55), Daw Ngwe Khin (56), 
Daw Hla Tin (64), Daw Hla Kyaing (68), Daw Ngwe 
(75), Daw Mi, Mi Tut (50), Ma Tin Hla, Ma Kyi, Ngwe 
In, Daw Lae, Ma Kyin, Ma Ngwe, the elderly Daw Lwe, 
Daw Phu Akae, Daw Phyu, Daw Si and Mi Nge. 
  On August 11, 1994, in Papun District, SLORC troops 
from LIB arrested 21 villagers from three different 
villages including men, women, and even two baby-boys 
only three years old. They were taken and held prisoner 
at the battalion's camp and interrogated by an intelligence 
captain. The captain and battalion leaders demanded two 
guns and one walkie-talkie, and said that if the other 
villager did not get these for them then they would kill all 
twenty-four who were held hostage at their camp. The 
other villagers were afraid they would be killed, so they 
pooled their resources and effort and went searching for 
guns and a walkie-talkie. They finally managed to obtain 
them and gave them to the soldiers on August 27. Only 
then were the villagers released.
  Military Infantry Battalion No. 57 had set up an 
interrogation cell called "Shwe Pyi Nyein" in their 
battalion headquarters in Shwe Kyin and there they 
tortured all the suspected persons.  If one household 
member joined the democratic forces, the remaining 
members were arrested and tortured at that cell.  On May 
11, 1992 Naw Dah Lu from Ma-U Bin was arrested for 
her son and Tin Htay from east Don Za Yint was arrested 
for her daughter. (DAWN Vol. 4. No. 3 Page 8)
        The SLORC battalion may have believed that some villagers in 
the area had been trained and armed by the Karen army as a Karen village 
defense militia. In fact, there are no Karen militia or weapons in those 
villages, and the villagers had a very hard time obtaining any. The 
SLORC troops probably demanded guns and a radio so they could 
present them to their superiors as "captured" them from Karen soldiers in 
battle. Weapons obtained this way are often shown in the SLORC media 
as weapons "captured from" or "laid down by" "members of Karen armed 
group". In order to obtain the weapons from the villagers, sometimes the 
army detains women and children at the base and ask their husband or 
relatives to bring the weapon and bail them out.
        In Karen State, a man told  how his wife was used as a hostage 
in the army camp. 
  "SLORC soldiers from Column 1 of LIB came to N 
Village and captured me together with six other villagers, 
including two women. They took us outside the village, 
tied us all up with the same rope and blindfolded us. 
They kept the two women together. They took all of us to 
L Army outpost and beat us up, asking us to tell them 
where the gun and the walkie-talkie were. We told them 
we didn't know anything. The soldier who interrogated us 
was M. Everybody was tortured. Later they released 
the headman and sent an order with him for all our wives 
to bring rice for us. When my wife brought rice for me, 
they captured her as well. Anything the women brought 
aside from rice was taken and eaten by the soldiers. They 
ordered the headman to go find a gun and a walkie-talkie, 
but he dared not go so they told two of us to go along 
with him. Three of us went back to our village and then 
we ran away, and then I met you gathering information. 
My wife is still in their camp. I don't know what will 
happen to all the people there." ( KHRG)
        The military units have distributed written commands to 
hundreds of villages in war-zones in Karen, Mon, Karenni, Shan, Kachin 
and Araken state where ethnic armed struggles are going on.  These 
commands order the local civilian to relocate, to inform on ethnic 
supporters, to supply unpaid laborers and to provide troops with 
Many were stamped "Comply Without Fail." We have obtained many of 
these letters sent by the army to the village headmen asking them to 
collect the weapons or face killing of hostage women. The following are 
the some of letters translated. Details which must be omitted for the 
safety of the villagers are blacked out on the order photocopies and 
written here as 'xxx' or 'yyy'.
                                        Order# 1
Light Infantry Battalion # xxx                  To:
 Intelligence Unit                                      Mr. xxx
We are detaining xxx's wife, his younger brother and the head of 
the village from xxx village. So in return for their lives, we know 
Mr. xxx has one AK-47 rifle and one Icon walkie-talkie. If you 
send them within two days along with one villager, we'll give you 
a guarantee for their lives and we won't arrest you. After two days 
has expired, we cannot guarantee their lives. You should handle 
this the same way as previously with Infantry Battalion # xxx 
[another battalion in the area], and we will help you.
Light Infantry Battalion.
                                        Order # 2
        Mr.xxx (xxx Village)  (one gun and one Icon walkie-talkie)
        Mr.yyy (yyy Village)            } (one gun and one walkie-
        Mr.zzz (zzz Village)            }
We have sent letter to the above people, the headmen and villagers 
to inform them of our order.
Some members of the village defense group and other people from 
xxx Village area must hand over their guns and walkie-talkies to 
the column commander. If they hand over their guns and walkie-
talkies, we [the column commander and strategic command 
commander] will take responsibility for the detained people. If 
they run away instead, we won't take responsibility for the 
detained families or the villagers.
At the moment, we are communicating with Mr. xxx Village for 
the same report to this unit. (KHRG)
Forced relocation               
        Military devised a ruthless strategy known as the "Four Cuts", 
similar in concept to the "Strategic Hamlet" operation of the USA in 
        In essence, the "Four Cuts" strategy is : to cut off the four 
links- of  food, finance, intelligence and recruits- between civilians 
armed opposition forces . Under this operation, large areas are declared 
"free-fire" zones, and entire communities are forced to move to 
hamlets", which are fenced in and subjected to tight military control. 
Expulsion orders are issued, warning that anyone trying to remain in 
home will be shot on sight. Ten of thousands of communities have been 
destroyed or removed by such "Four Cuts" operations over the past thirty 
years. In ethnic minority areas, forced relocation were undertaken both 
part of military strategies to deprive the ethnic rebels of their 
support, and 
to provide the military with free labor for their military.
        A 19-year-old Mon girl from Thabyu Zayat township, Mon 
State who recounted her experiences of when she returned to her home 
village in December 1993 for the birth of her first child. Unknown to 
the village had received an order to move to a nearby army camp a month 
before her arrival. At the time of the incident she was eight months 
  "On December 13, 1993, a group of soldiers from the 
31st Light Infantry Battalion based in Kayoke Pi village 
arrived our village in the afternoon. Without any 
waring, they started to burn down the houses in our 
village. We did not expect them to do that. We had no 
time to collect our belongings. Since I was pregnant at 
the time, I could not take anything with me. The whole 
village was set alight, including the primary school and 
Buddhist monastery. I ran into the rice fields with other 
people. No one dared to come out because we feared 
being arrested or tortured by the troops. The captain 
shouted, "This is the punishment for those who did not 
listen to our order," and laughed.
The soldiers returned in the evening. All the houses had 
been burnt to ashes. We had to sleep in the field for one 
week without shelter and enough food... Then, about ten 
soldiers from the same unit came back and told us to 
move near their base. Anyone found in the area would be 
shot dead without any questions, these areas were 
designated as free-fire zones and they would not allow 
any people to live there. After that some people moved to 
other villages far away, or to the Thai border. We did not 
want to move to their base because we had heard that 
there was a lot of forced labor and maltreatment there. I 
decided to go back to my husband's village, but I heard 
that his village had also been burnt down. So I finally 
decided to go to the Thai-Burma border. I am afraid to go 
back." (HRW/Asia)       
        Naw Ler Htoo, 28 year-old-Karen from Pa-an township, Karen 
State revealed her life in the new village near the army base after her 
village was forcibly relocated.
  "They gave us three days to move out of the village and 
said that after that, if they see anyone in the village 
they'll shoot them on sight. We had to move to B 
[alongside an existing village]. We asked if we could 
move to a better place instead, but they refused and we 
had to go to the place they'd ordered. This happened on 
26 August 1993. We could only take some of our things 
with us. Most of our rice and other things had to be left 
behind. Later they allowed us to go back to get it, but 
only during the daytime. It was two hours walk. It was 
rainy season so it was very hard to travel and we couldn't 
go back every day. When we got back, a lot of our things 
had disappeared; most of the planks from our houses and 
all of our livestock were gone. It was terrible, and it never 
stopped raining, and I cried and cried. I don't want to 
stay in the new place, I want to go home. But we can't 
because the soldiers are patrolling around there all the 
time, and if they see anyone they grab them, punch them 
and beat them. They beat my 18-year-old brother S one 
time until his nose was bleeding. Another villager went 
back and tried to sleep one night in the old village, and 
the soldiers captured him, tied him up and tortured him 
all night. Now we face the problem of starvation because 
we can't work on our farms, we can't do anything. We 
don't have enough clothes. We don't know how to make 
a living in the new place, but we can't dare go back to 
our old place either.
No one can resist them, because everyone is afraid to die. 
Our lives now are just work in the morning to eat in the 
evening, surviving hand-to-mouth. Now I need to buy a 
new sarong but I can't. We all feel deeply humiliated and 
small in the new place, because we see the people from 
the village with new clothes while we don't even have a 
change of clothes.". (KHRG)
        Undoubtedly the most disturbing evidence of a new government 
policy of ethnic relocation occurred during the mass exodus into 
Bangladesh of over 260,000 Muslims from Buthidaung, Rathedaung and 
Maungdaw townships in Arakan state in 1991-92. Not only were many 
Muslim villages reported to have been destroyed by army units, but there 
were a number of documented cases of Muslim-owned land or property 
being confiscated. Refugees in Bangladesh alleged that many Muslims 
were being conscripted to work as unpaid laborers on "urban 
development projects". At the height of the operation, there were 
reports across the northern Akaran of extrajudicial executions, beatings 
and rape involving both troops and security forces.
Forced porterage
        All members of the population are liable to seizure by the army 
for forced portering and labor duties. There was a time when the women 
might have been spared, but in the past few years there is increasing 
evidence of women being taken.  Although men are taken most 
frequently, children and women, including those who are pregnant or 
nursing their infants are also arbitrarily seized. Men often flee from 
villages or sleep outside their homes for fear of being taken as porters, 
and the military seizes anyone who remains, including women. As a 
result, in the past three years women have been seized much more 
frequently to act as porters, and are subject to the same human rights 
violations as men. However in addition to beatings and poor conditions, 
women are at risk of rape by troops during their detention as porters. 
Women undergo the worst treatment. They reported being raped by one 
or more soldiers nearly every night, and still having to carry supplies 
ammunition every day. Those who resisted were killed. In many cases, 
women are used for more purposes than men. Women are more versatile 
in their usefulness: forced labor to work as porters; human shield for 
fighting army; property that can be redeemed for a good sum of money; 
and entertainment for soldiers which ends in repeated rape.
        One 16-year-old Muslim women from Hlaingbwe township 
described her treatment:
  "At night we were made to sleep separately from the male 
porters, in with the soldiers....they would come and pull 
girls out from the group and make the girls sleep with 
them...... all of them were very rough with us, treated us 
not like human.... Only when the soldiers were drunk 
were they happy, and would then be a bit more 
gentle...But they would take us all the time, whether they 
were drunk or not."
        Following are testimonies of some women porters who were 
forced into portering during the SLORC's dry season offensive against 
Manerplaw starting from December 1991.  These stories were revealed by 
the victims themselves at an interview with the student leaders in Papun
Township, Karen State.
  Ma San, a 42-year-old Karen woman, was from 
Kamamaung village, Hlaingbwe township, Karen State. 
Ma San earned her household's living by selling some 
vegetables and basic commodities at Kawkareik 
Township and Mae Seik Pass.  As each of them worked 
as hard as they could, they were listed to the middle 
class.  At the night on 17 December 1991, SLORC 
troops came and rounded up her house by the order of 
Tactical Operations Commander of Kamamaung and she 
was arrested for her husband and children.  The operation 
started at night on the same day and over 1,000 soldiers, 
mainly from LIB 4 and IB 1 of LID 66, LIB 207 of LID 
22 and LIB 8 of LID 44 were involved.  Daw San and 
other thirty females had to accompany the Auxiliary 
Artillery Company. Total number of female porters in the 
operation was over ninety and they are from Kamamaung, 
Ta Ku Seik, Ohn Daw, Mi Zai, Ta Khwart Hpo, Pay Pin 
Seik and Mae Seik Villages.  They were captured while 
their husbands were at work and the SLORC troops said 
they had to capture them because of their husbands' 
absence.  Out of them, forty were between 40 and 50 
years, thirty were under 40 and the rest were under 20.  
Daw San had to carry twelve 60mm mortar shells.  They 
were scolded when they could not carry their loads and 
when one of them ran away on the half way, all were 
treated without giving any food or water the whole day.  
Both males and females were fed only a plate of rice at 
most for a meal, while the SLORC troops were having 
canned fish, tinned beans, meat, and fried fish paste.  
They had no idea of sharing with the porters, and 
whenever they arrived at any village, they captured and 
killed some domestic animalspigs, cows, and goats
without the owners' permission, as foodstuff for the 
operation.  Then, the porters were fed only watery bean 
curry with a little salt.  When they had to climb the 
mountains, they were given only half dishes of watery 
rice soup because of the shortage of water.  Sick porters 
went untreated. Daw San and other four female who 
escaped were weak and feeble and were suffering from 
depression when they escaped. (DAWN)
  Daw Khin Mya, 32-year-old mother of five was also from 
Kamamaung Village, Hlaingbwe township, Karen State.  
On December 17, 1991, while Daw Khin Mya and Khin 
Khin Saw were collecting fire wood in the forest near 
their village, SLORC troops from IB 1 arrived and forced 
them to serve as porters for two days as they could not 
search for the males and captured them. Daw Khin Mya 
had to accompany them because only her eldest daughter, 
12 years old, was at home and her husband was away.  
She had to work for Auxiliary Artillery Company, under 
the command of LID 66, and she was forced to carry 
twelve artillery shells for twenty-two days till fighting 
started.  Sometimes, soldiers took off their combat boots 
and put them in her basket.  They climbed the mountains 
from five to eleven every morning,  and to reach the 
summit they had to cross thirteen mountains.  At the top, 
as there was no water, the male porters had to carry water 
for cooking from the bottom.  The porters were fed only a 
cover of hankaw (lunch box) of rice soup.  They suffered 
terrible cold and faced many troubles as they did not 
have any spare clothes.  Before Daw Khin Mya escaped, 
the total of forty female porters and over fifty male 
porters decreased to twenty females and thirty males as 
the rest had fled.  Some females were released under the 
command of the operation commander, but some 
disappeared and were never heard from again.. The 
porters faced many troubles, such as insufficient food, 
scolding, and beating, and sometimes they had to carry 
the loads of the escaped porters and were deprived of 
food and water when others fled.  They were even 
threatened with being forced to walk across mine fields 
when the fighting took place. Unable to bear the 
suffering any longer, Daw Khin Mya decided to flee on 9 
January 1992 and climbed down from the posting 
mountain.  She was in poor health, afraid all the time, 
and tearful while telling the story. (DAWN Vol.3 No.7)
  Another 16-year-old girl named Ma Thanda Soe was 
arrested with Daw Khin Mya collecting fire wood by the 
soldiers from SLORC IB 1 under the command of LID 
66.  The soldiers said it would last only two days so she 
decided to be a porter because her father was over sixty 
and in poor health, and the rest were female and no one 
except her was strong enough to do that.  She was not 
free for more than twenty days, during which she suffered 
so much trouble that she could no longer bear it and fled.
 Ma Thanda Soe had to serve in the Auxiliary Artillery 
Company and carried four 81mm mortar shells.  A shell 
weighs over five kilograms, and a strong man can carry 
only six shells.  Nevertheless, she had to carry four 
shells, and that caused serious shoulder injuries.  Bruises 
still remained.  The load was so heavy to carry that often 
she could not walk, but when she cried, the soldiers came 
and scolded her, beat her, and threatened that they would 
arrest all her family members and put them in jail if she 
fled.  Sometimes they left her without any food.  Her 
dress was torn because of sweat and the weight of the 
As she had to walk the whole day and sometimes was not 
able to sleep, she came to suffer from malnutrition and 
her blood pressure was down to 90/40.  She could not 
walk any longer and suffered more as she was very 
young.  She dared not speak openly to the students as she 
was still afraid of the SLORC soldiers. The operation 
commander was stationed in Kamamaung Village and 
controlled all the villagers' livelihood.  Even though the 
villagers were afraid and depressed, they dared not speak 
openly about their suffering. (DAWN Vol.3 No.7)
  On December 17, 1991 Khin Khin Saw was arrested by 
SLORC troops from IB 1 under the command of LID 66, 
while she was collecting fire woods.  She was forced to 
serve as a porter because her elder brother was not at 
home.  She had to carry four 81mm mortar shells.  Her 
family was very poor and hardly to survive the social 
problems.  Even though she has managed her escape, she 
was still afraid of the local SLORC and the soldiers. 
Forced Labor for military purposes
        The use of unpaid civilians on these development project is a 
violation of the 1930 International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention, 
to which Burma is a signatory. In violation of Common Article 3 of the 
Geneva Conventions, forced labor has also been used for overtly military 
practices. This includes the use of civilians as porters for the army, to 
construct army barracks, and to stand watch on roads and railways in 
areas where ethnic rebels are active.
        In violation of Common Article 3 of Geneva Conventions, 
forced labor has also been used for overtly military practices. This 
includes the use of civilians as porter for the army, to construct army 
barracks, to cook for them,  and do all the work in their barracks.     
        Equally disturbing, many of the worse human rights abuses 
against women, including summary arrest, beatings, murder and rape, 
have happened while they have been engaged in forced labor duties in 
military bases or  "Development projects."
        Daw Mi Mi Than, 40-year-old Karen woman described how the 
military forcibly used the local people.
  "They order us to do so many things, it is unimaginable. 
We don't even have time to provide for our own families. 
There are two types of abuses; one is guarding the road 
all the time, and the other is having to go for slave labor. 
They also demand porters  that makes three kinds of 
slavery. When they order porters we have to send twenty-
three people. For slave labor and guarding the road, it's 
one person from every house.    
When we guard the road, most of the time we have to 
sweep the road and walk around on the road. We have to 
drag branches to erase our footprints. Then the next 
morning we have to check the whole road and if we see 
any footprints or anything, we have to report it right 
away. At night we just have to sleep on the road. If 
people go back to the village without permission they are 
fined ten viss [16 kg] of pork. Two of us have to guard a t 
each place along the road. At night we can only sleep by 
turns  if one sleeps, the other has to guard. When the 
soldiers call you, if you don't answer right away they 
demand one bottle of alcohol and one chicken, so 
nobody dares to fall asleep. They never feed us  we have 
to take our own food.
For slave labor, we have to carry sand and rocks to build 
the road almost all day long. We have to get there at 6:30 
a.m. and we must start work straight away. We can rest 
between noon and 1 p.m., then we work until 5:30 p.m. 
and go home. They give us rice and a little bit of yellow 
beans to eat. They also make us send three bullock carts 
from our village to carry the sand to build the road, and 
they make us pay taxes fmen are at the work site, the remaining 
family members find it extremely difficult to work the farms and grow the 
necessary food. When the men return, the women are expected to replace 
them at the work site unless they have children over 16 years of age who 
can do the work.  The one threat constantly hanging over the villagers' 
heads is the army's clear order that one person from each family must 
always be at the work site until the task is finally completed. The 
villagers are unaware what the target date for completion of the rail 
        Mi Pan, 36-year-old Mon mother of four sons escaped to the 
Thai-Burma border told her story at the end of March 1994 of being 
working as forced labor in Ye-Tavoy railway project.
 "From each house one person had to go to build the 
railway. My father stays in a different house, so he had to 
go too. My husband had to go about six times, and my 
father eight times. The SLORC gives authority to 
someone in the village to order who has to go and when, 
and that person orders you to go. While my husband was 
away, I had to borrow money to live, and afterwards I 
could not pay it back. Two tins of rice costs 400 Ks, and 
I also had to pay "porter fees"700 Ks each time, and I 
had to pay three times.
 To go from the village to the railway it takes six hours on 
foot. The SLORC doesn't come, the workers just have to 
go on foot by themselves. Then they have to carry the 
steel rails for making the railway, dig the ground, carry 
dirt, cut wood, and many other jobs. The most recent 
work is carrying logs. All the workers cut them, and then 
they have to carry them to the railway or SLORC brings 
them on trucks. My husband and my father had to do 
this, as well as all the other steps in building the railway. 
They had to work all day long  they never had free time. 
They start at 7AM, then at noon they're allowed to eat 
breakfast, then they stop working at 6 p.m. There were 
altogether over 1,000 people working along with my 
husband and my father. They had to clear a path wider 
than a car road along flat land. Not only clearing, but 
they also had to carry dirt and smooth it, and carry stones 
both big and small. The workers, including my father and 
husband, had to break the stones. Then they had to carry 
them a long way by themselves. They had to dig with 
hoes, and SLORC provided some tools.
 There were many women at the work site. They have to 
work together with the men. There were also old people 
and children. The children were as young as 8 years old, 
up to 14 and 15 years old.
 The SLORC never gives food, they all have to bring their 
own. My husband and father just took rice, salt, and 
fishpaste. Due to SLORC looting and slavery, these 
people are already living from hand-to-mouth, close to 
starvation.] Those who go to work knowing they don't 
have enough food and who can't ask for any from 
relatives or friends will face starvation, so they just have 
to open their arms and beg food from other people.
At the railway construction site they have to sleep under 
the trees, in the bushes. They have no mats, so they must 
sleep on the ground, and SLORC patrols around. To go 
to the toilet they had to ask permission from the SLORC 
troops, and then the soldiers followed them. The soldiers 
also guarded the area all the time while they worked. You 
can't rest, even when you're tired you have to keep 
working. Some soldiers forced the people to work by 
scolding or beating them, and some of them don't. My 
husband and my father weren't beaten, but they saw 
others who were subjected to beatings. Those who were 
beaten were working together with them, and when they 
were beaten they were very close. They were beaten on  
their bodies, until they bled. When people got sick the 
soldiers did not heal them, they just left them. The sick 
were not allowed to go home.. If they could not work, 
then they were not forced to work but they had to stay 
until they could work again. The soldiers give them 
nothing. (CPPSN)
Forced labor for TV Tower project
        The Burmese Military junta has established a Television 
receiving center at ten mile from Maungdaw which has been under 
construction on top of the Tunnel Hill for the last several months. In 
order to facilitate transportation to the top of the hill, the officials 
taken initiative to construct an all season metal road from the bottom to 
the top of the hill.
        It is understood that the technology for the TV and Satellite 
Center has been provided by the government of the People's Republic of 
China and presently eight Chinese engineers are supervising the 
installation machinery and construction of buildings which are nearing 
        The border administration has issued a standing order to the 
villagers to supply about 4000 laborers routinely for the said project 
different villages of Maungdaw township. However, the Muslims 
villagers are neither provided any food nor have they given any wage. 
(Source: Mirror of Arakan, 940401)
Paddy and fishpond project in Yedashe Township
        Since 1992, SLORC has been implementng a "paddy and 
fishpond" project in Yedashe Township, Toungoo District. The project is 
between Yedashe and Myo Hla villages, covering an area about six miles 
in length and one-and-a-half miles in breadth. It involves digging 
thousands of shallow fish ponds, which are also to be used as rice 
paddies in rainy season. Each pond is ten sq. feet, and four feet deep. 
entire civilian population of the township is being forced to dig these 
ponds. This township consists of five towns and fifty-eight villages 
[a village tract is an area including four to six villages]. About 20,000 
people have been forced to work digging these ponds each dry season 
since 1992.
Rape and sexual abuses
        Half a century ago, rape in war was outlawed by the Geneva 
Conventions which state: " Women shall be especially 
protected....against rape, enforced prostitution, or any form of indecent 
assault." Rape may be outlawed under the international rules Governing 
conflicts but Burmese women are being raped. Burmese and ethnic 
women have been raped in their homes or in their villages by army 
soldiers sometimes before their husband or their family. Women porters 
or hostages have been raped by soldiers in the frontier areas or in the 
military bases. Local women have been raped during their time at the 
"development projects" or working places. Women have been raped in an 
organize  and systematic way.
        Rape is a form of torture experienced by women all over the 
world. Rape and threats of harassment are often used to elicit 
or a confession during interrogation. Rape and sexual abuse are also used 
to humiliate and intimidate women and thus weaken their resistance to 
interrogation, or to punish them.
        Numerous cases of rape, including mass rape, among Muslim 
women from Buthidaung and Rathedaung townships in Rakhine state 
during 1991-92 have been reported . 
  A mother of five from Buthidaung township, Arakan 
State, told what happen to her after soldiers had taken 
her husband for porter duty.  "They took my husband to 
be a porter and then later that same night they came back 
and raped me. There were four of them. My younger 
sister and my sister-in-law were in the house, but since I 
am oldest I came out and let the others hide in the house. 
My sisters are 20 and 25. My sister is a virgin. The 
soldiers took me to their camp, and I was kept there the 
whole night. As they were taking me away the village 
headman saw, and he came out and protested to them that 
they should let me go, but the soldiers threatened to 
shoot him if he said one word. The next day the village 
headman came and paid 100 Kyats to get me released"
        Many of these rapes apparently occurred after the husbands or 
fathers of the women were taken for forced labor by either regular army 
soldiers or the local security forces. Sometimes the rapes were committed 
in the victims' homes with relatives and children left to watch; on other 
occasions the women were taken to local military bases where they were 
allegedly "sorted out by beauty". Following the rapes, some of the 
women were allegedly killed; other were allowed to return home, 
sometimes after money had been paid to secure their freedom.
  On April 18, 1993, Mi Htaw, 25, from Win Pa Toke 
Village in Thanbyuzayat Township was repeatedly rape 
by soldiers from SLORC IB 31 in front of her husband at 
their outpost near the village. She went to the outpost for 
the release of Nai Sein Aung Kyi, her husband, who was 
arrested by SLORC troops for allegedly having contact 
with the New Mon State Party (NMSP).  When she 
arrived there, she was repeatedly raped before her 
husband.  Nai Sein Aung Kyi was also subjected to 
torture which led his left hand broken.  After their 
release, they no longer dared to stay at that village 
anymore and moved to Karoppi Village. 
        In some cases, women were raped in front of the other people.  
  On July 24, 1993, fighting between SLORC troops and 
Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA) broke out near 
Wel Ga Glog village Kyar Inn Seik Kyi township, Karen 
state said SLORC troops rushed into the Village where 
only the women and children remained.  The troops spent 
the whole night mistreating the women and plundering 
what remained in the village.  They entered every house 
and looted watches, cassette recorders, gold, money and 
property worth more than 150,000 Kyats.  Some women 
who were hiding were gang-raped by the troops.  Of them 
Mi Yin Kyi, a 34-year-old Mon girl and seven other 
victims were repeatedly raped at gun point in front of the 
        Women are at risk of rape by troops during their detention as 
porters and forced laborers at the military camp of their so-called 
development projects. 
        A 55-year-old Muslim woman from Tanessarin Division who 
was forced to stay at an army camp in March 1993 told her story as 
  "At Yebyu camp, I was made to dig bunkers, latrines, 
look after the vegetable garden, fetch water for them, and 
clean their uniforms.  When we couldn't manage the 
jobsespecially the digging, that was very hardwe 
were beaten by the soldiers. At night we had to sleep in 
the same place with the soldiers. The young womenI 
was the only old onewere forced to sleep with the 
soldiers every night."
        Naw paw Ther, 32 years old Karen widow was raped while she 
was working at the army camp as unpaid labour  in May 1994. She fled to 
Thai-Burma border a month later.
  "When I had to go for slave labour, I was raped by a 
soldier. We went to work at their army camp for five 
days, and when we got there they refused to give us any 
food. Everyone had to work without food, so the next 
morning my friends and I had to go back to the village to 
get some food. After we brought it back to their camp, 
two men escaped from the slave labour at night, so the 
soldiers tried to catch them and made things harder for 
the rest of us. That's why they wouldn't let us go back to 
the village after that. Altogether there were nineteen of 
us, eleven men and eight women. That night a soldier 
came, grabbed my shoulders and pushed me down. Then 
he covered my mouth so I could not yell. Then he kissed 
me and he raped me. I felt so terrible. The soldier said, 
"Don't tell anyone about this", but I said "I will tell 
because I fell so terrible about it." I went to his 
commander Myint Shwe Htoo to report it and told him 
how terrible I felt, and he told me I could go do whatever 
I liked, so I left. He made the soldier carry a log around 
the camp as punishment. I do not know the soldier's 
name. This happened a month ago at K Camp of IB 28. 
It is close to our village. 
        Even where these rape cases have been reported to the 
authorities, there is little evidence that action has been taken. For 
  On July 4, 1992 a 13-year-old Mon schoolgirl was 
allegedly raped in a small hut on a rubber plantation near 
Wethonchaung village, Thabyuzayat township, by two 
drunk soldiers, Saw Maung Maung and Moe Nyo. Local 
militiamen from the village gave chase and reported the 
incident to the local LORC. Subsequently, the two 
accused men were caught, but villagers claim that they 
still do not know if they were ever brought to trial or 
punished by their officers.
  In another case, an 8-year-old girl who was walking to 
school with her brother was attacked by three drunk 
soldiers and sexually molested by them. She screamed 
for help and her brother ran to tell his parents, who then 
arrived on the scene. The girl was lying on the ground 
with her clothes ripped, and taken to the hospital for 
treatment of abrasions of the vaginal walls, bruises and 
scratches. The family later made a complaint to the 
authorities, who reportedly threatened them with death. 
Although the case was eventually taken up, the soldiers 
were reportedly not brought to justice.( AI)
  On July 17, 1992, SLORC company commander Zaw 
Min Htwe and troops arrived at Nyaung Pin Tha Village 
in Kyauk Gyi Township, Pegu Division.  There the 
commander summoned all the members of the village 
LORC and ordered them to send him a young girl for 
"relaxation" as he was going to sleep for one night there.  
He also threatened them at gun point that unless they 
carried out his order, all the villagers would be punished.  
In fear they had no choice but to submit to the demand 
for a young girl.(DAWN)
        Not only in the war-zone areas, but also in the areas where the 
ethnic armed movement is not so active, women are subject to rape or 
harassment both by the military and by security forces.
  Around Kyauk Kyi area, Karen State, young women often 
go into town by bicycle to buy things, then bring them 
back in the bicycle's carrier. SLORC soldiers in the area 
now use what they call the "bullet trick". At the first 
SLORC checkpoint coming out of town, a SLORC 
soldier searches the bicycle carriers of young women, and 
in the process slips a few bullets inside. Then at the 
second checkpoint, a soldier "finds" the bullets, 
interrogates the girl on where she got them, and when she 
can not answer she is detained for three days, during 
which she is repeatedly raped by soldiers. She is then 
released with no questions asked. This has been done 
repeatedly by soldiers from IB 73 and 351, particularly at 
Ye O Zin Village in Kyauk Kyi Township, Pegu 
Division. At Kyaun Zut Village in February 1994, troops 
from IB 351 used a similar trick. They keep a pot of 
drinking water for travelers in front of their checkpoint, 
and they hid some bullets at the base of it. Then when a 
pretty girl came past and stopped, the soldiers went out, 
"found" the bullets, and detained and raped her for three 
days. (Source: KHRG)
  On  January 30, 1993, a woman named Ma Khin, 25, 
from No. 1 Zeyar Street in Moulmein, was gang-raped by 
two policemen and two soldiers at one of the checkpoints 
in Myawaddy. These checkpoints were opened for the 
purpose of collecting the fees from the traders who pass 
through Myawaddy and Mae Sot, and those who came to 
Thailand for seeking jobs.  The people who pass through 
these checkpoints have to pay 300 Ks each to SLORC 
authorities. In this case, Ma Khin went to Mae Sot 
seeking a job and offered to pay the fee to the authorities 
led by U Tun, a police corporal.  Her proposal was 
refused by saying that they did not want to get the 
money, only the person.  Although she begged them to 
spare her, she was taken to the back of the checkpoint 
and raped at gun point among the banana plants. Many 
women who pass through these checkpoints have to offer 
money or spend one night with the soldiers and police 
there. (DAWN)
IV. Refugee Women
        Between 1981 and 1993 the number of refugees worldwide 
doubled from eight million to more than 20 million: millions more are 
displaced in their own countries. In most cases they have been forced to 
flee situations of war or gross human rights violations against them. 
than eighty per cent of refugees are women and children. There is no  
doubt that refugee women, particularly those on their own, are more 
vulnerable to exploitation and deprivation of rights at every stage of 
flight, than are refugee men.           
        In Burma, military expansion that led to an increase in troop 
strength from 18,000 in 1988 to an estimated 400,000 in 1995 meant that 
the army was able to move into virtually every small town and village in 
formerly armed ethnic group-held areas. Various patterns of human rights 
violations by the military against the ethnic minorities lead the 
and thousands to refugees to the neighboring countries especially to 
Thailand. Those who escaped the human rights abuses in Burma by 
fleeing to Thailand faced further persecution and human rights violations 
there. In violation of the common internationthe international women 
forum. The occasion of the UN Convenience on 
Women offers an opportunity to press governments attending the 
conference to guarantee that women's human rights are upheld. 
Therefore, we would like to urge all the participants  and international 
community to gave special attention to Burma the real plights of Burmese 
Amnesty International, "Human Rights are Women's' Right" ( London, 
Amnesty International, Myanmar: "The climate of fear continues, 
members of ethnic minorities and political prisoners still targeted"  
(London, 1993)
Amnesty International, Myanmar: "No law at all: Human right violations 
under military rule (London, 1992)
Amnesty International, Myanmar: "Human rights violations against 
Muslims in the Arakan State" (London, 1992)
Human Rights Watch/ Asia, Burma: "Entrenchment or Reform?": Human 
rights developments and the need for continued pressure (New York, 
Human Rights/ Asia, Burma: "Abuses linked to the fall of Manerplaw" 
(New York, 1995)
Human Rights Watch/ Asia, Burma/ Thailand: "The Mon: Persecuted in 
Burma, forced back from Thailand" (New York, 1994)
Asia Watch, "A Modern Form of Slavery: Trafficking of Burmese 
Women and Girls into Brothels in Thailand (New York, 1993)
Anti-Slavery International "Ethnic groups in Burma: Development, 
Democracy and Human Rights"
DAWN News Bulletins (ABSDF)
Reports from Karen Human Rights Group, Committee for Publicity of 
People Struggle in Monland (CPPSM), Mirror of Arakan, New Mon 
State Party (NMSP), National League for Democracy, Liberated Area 
(NLD-LA), Democratic Party for New Society (DPNS), Karen Nation 
Union (KNU), All Burma Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF).
Appendix I
By Mi Sue Pwint
The political movement and the struggle for national liberation and 
independence had a unique charter in Burma.  The intellectual students 
mobilised and led the peasants and workers and their struggle for 
freedom against the colonial rulers.  The students' movements are 
inseparable from the historical struggle for the independence of the 
In March 1988, we, young female students, along with other students, 
went to the street and took  part in a series of anti-BSPP (Burmese 
Socialist Programme Party) demonstrations which spearheaded world-
wide known 1988 popular uprising in Burma.  On March 15, thousands 
of young students rallied to demonstrate their solidarity with the 
from Rangoon Institute of Technology.  We marched out of the campus 
of Rangoon University (Main Campus)  to join with the students in 
Hlaing Campus.  When we reached on the Prome Road, near the "White 
Bridge", a barbed wire fence had been strung across the road in front of 
us.  Soldiers armed with automatic rifles and aiming at us.  At that 
trucks that carried hundreds of riot police in steel helmets and armed 
clubs, rifles, and cane shields drove into the gathering.  Riot police 
down the trucks, rushed into the gathering and charged the students.  
Some of them concentrated on the female students; their jewellery and 
watches snatched.  The riot police berated the students for daring to 
demonstrate, beat the girls and raped them ... the girls were so ashamed 
tell anyone and some were in shock for four or five days.  Some cried and 
requested to be sent to a nunnery without giving their parents any 
About 100 students, including female students were drown in the Inya 
Lake.  Some female students were beaten unconscious before arrest.  
When they came to again, they found themselves in a room without 
windows.  Some were raped by the officials and then by the policemen 
one after another until the victims lost consciousness.  Some of them 
committed suicide.
Teenagers from high schools all over Rangoon also flocked to the 
demonstrations.  An increasing numbers of protesters were very young, 
and they were perhaps the fieriest of them all.  For them there was 
future under the present system.  They had only to look at their elder 
brothers and sisters who had gone through university just to be faced 
with mass unemployment, or at best, the chance to do occasional odd-
jobs in an effort to contribute something to their families.
At the high of uprising in August and September, even housewives were 
banging pots and pans to voice their demands for democracy.
Women's Role In The Aftermath Of Military Coup
In September 1988, Saw Maung led Ne Win's hand-picked puppets 
cracked down the pro-democracy uprising and seized power to safeguard 
the then BSPP.  In the aftermath of the coup, when the NLD (National 
League for Democracy) was formed, some women joined the party and 
could hold key posts in the Central Committee.  The 1991 Nobel Peace 
Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi became the Secretary General and Daw 
Myint Myint Khin was elected as a member in the Central Executive 
Committee while Daw San San Nwe (Tharyarwaddy, Writer) and Shwegu 
May Hnin (Writer) were listed to the Central Committee.   For township-
level, many female intellectuals were in the leading role of the NLD.
Out of 392 Members of the Parliament who won the seats in the May 
1990 General Elections, 15 were women.  Six women MPs from NLD 
were arrested by SLORC under various self-declared laws and orders.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi And Her Role
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi became Secretary General and co-founder of the 
NLD on 24 September 1988.  As a leader of the NLD, she delivered more 
than a hundred public addresses during extensive campaign tours.  On 20 
July 1989, she was placed under  house arrest by SLORC; recognised as 
a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.    On July 10, 1995, 
she was unexpectedly released by the Burmese junta.  
She won the 1990 Thorolf Rafto Memorial Prize for Human Rights 
(Norway) and Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by European 
Parliament in 1991.  She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.  In 1993, 
she was awarded AIF Rose Prize from Denmark.  Another prize, the 1992 
Award of Progressive Women was jointly consecrated to Daw Aung San 
Suu Kyi and 1992 Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchu by Spanish 
Federation of Progressive Women.  Up to now, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi 
has been already awarded more 20 prizes and honorary  awards including 
the Nobel one.
Mr Francis Sejerstad, head of the five members Norwegian Nobel 
Committee commented on her , "Suu Kyi's struggle is one of the most 
extraordinary examples of civil courage in Asia in recent decades.  She 
has become an important symbol in the struggle against oppression. She 
also emphasises the need for conciliation between the sharply divided 
regions and ethnic groups in her country.  The Norwegian Nobel 
Committee wishes to honour this woman for her unflagging efforts and to 
show its support for the many people throughout the world who are 
striving to attain democracy, human rights and ethnic conciliation by 
peaceful means."
Women's Role In The ABSDF
After the prodemocracy uprising was cracked down and about 10,000 
activists were gunned down by the military on 18 September 1988, 
thousands of students left the areas controlled by the ethnic minorities 
who have been waging a civil war against the successive regime in Burma 
for their self-determination for 40 years.  On November 1 of the same 
year, we founded the All Burma Students' Democratic Front, composed 
of people from all walks of life, different ethnicity and religions.
Among 2,500 members in the Front, about 200 are women.  Since 
ABSDF was founded, we, the women have been taking responsibilities in 
organising the people, teaching the children of the ethnic groups in the 
education sector to upgrade their future, as medics taking care for our 
own members andthe villagers' health and social progress, as operators 
in the communication branch.  As we have been working for the whole 
time, the Central Committee is much aware that we have been needed 
more training to be able to take part in the leading role of the Front.  
therefore, intend to implement projects and training relating to Women 
Empowerment, Maternal & Child Health Care and Self-reliance 
Programme (Sewing , wool knitting and etc.,).  Women's lives in the 
Front is the same with the men.  We have equal shares of food assisted by 
the NGOs.  Those who got married are involved in self-reliance 
programmes -- livestock breeding and collecting dry leaves for roofing -- 
and are provided proper assistance from the Front to solve their daily 
household problems.  
Women in Burmese Society
In Burmese society, women play in a crucial important role in their 
households' works.  They have to manage welfare of the whole family.  In 
current society of Burma, the lives of women are in a very difficult and 
exhausted stage and they are the one who directly suffered the 
consequences of the high price of basic commodities for everyday.  In one 
family, the wife has to seek for a job to earn for her family as her 
does.  Aside from that, women, as housewives, are also responsible for 
looking after their children until they are grown up.
The infant mortality rate at 98 per 100 live births is more than what 
had been more than 2 decades.  Maternal deaths of 58 women per week is 
40% attributable to illegal abortions, which in turn are caused by 
unwanted pregnancies and lack of affordable contraception.
Under the reign of BSPP, although it was clearly stated in its 
that women shall have equal rights with the men, it was just a 
propaganda.  Women have been suppressed and oppressed by all forms of 
discrimination in all fields, especially politics.  In Burma, women's 
in the decision-making process has not been accepted by the successive 
regime although it signed the "Convention on the Political Rights of 
This can clearly be seen during the election campaigns in 1990.  Daw 
Aung San Suu Kyi was prohibited from campaign tours and even barred 
from contesting the election.
Women in Burma's Education Sector
Educational system in Burma discriminates men against women since it 
has been under the boots of military regime.  No one has the right to 
education as the whole educational system has also been controlled by 
the dictatorship.  Women have equal right to education only at the High 
School-level.  After the high school final exam, although the numbers of 
women who pass are more than the men, they cannot choose the subject 
which they like.  The entrance for the Universities and Colleges are 
divided by their marks.  This educational system made women more 
suffering as they are again discriminated in accepting numbers of the 
students in certain courses.  After finished their studies, women have 
little chance to get the jobs.
Women Porterage
Because of the military offensives against the Democratic opposition 
groups, women have been suffering these consequences directly.  In 
1991's dry season offensive, 10,000 civilians, including 3,000 women, 
were press-ganged into porterage by SLORC.  Porters were not well fed 
on the way and ill-treated by SLORC soldiers.  When they were tired and 
not able to carry heavy loads, they were beaten with bamboo sticks and 
rifle butts.  Some were bayoneted and stabbed with knives.  Porters who 
tried to escape were gunned down.  Porters who suffered sickness on the 
way were left in the deep forest without any medical care.  Female 
were not only forced to carry heavy loads all the day but also gang-raped 
at night.
Sexual Abuses
Most of sexual abuses and other sexual slavery are committed by SLORC 
soldiers or sponsored by so-called State Law and Order Restoration 
Council (SLORC) or the military junta in Burma.  In the areas of military 
occupation and militarisation, these abuses are common. SLORC military 
commanders frequently summon local women -- at any age whether they 
were married or not -- to their outposts for questioning and raped at gun 
point.  These women never have a chance to refuse because power is in 
the barrel of the gun.  Sometimes, female civil servants and even wives 
their comrades were raped.  When those women got pregnant, the 
commander forced their privates to marry them.
Abuses in the Name of Development
In the context of our country, the development models that have been 
adapted by the military regime led to impoverishment of women.  In the 
name of so-called development programmes, women and children are not 
spared from contributing labour.  They not only get any wage but also 
have to spend their own food.
Furthermore, as they are forced to work as labourers, they have to leave 
their own jobs which are the sources to get money to solve their 
households' problems.  These consequences are to leave their children at 
homes or to bring along with them to the work site which led the children 
deprived of education.  In the work site, both the children and their 
mothers were never received appropriate medical treatment, instead 
abandoned in uncertain conditions.  Those who could not contribute 
labour had to hire other persons.  When they could not go or hire, they 
were fined at the rate fixed by SLORC authorities.
Many have been uprooted from their home communities by SLORC's 
relocation campaigns, herded into cramped, noisome concentration 
camps, sometimes separated from their families, often deprived of 
adequate food and clean water, and frequently subjected to beatings, 
back-breaking forced labour, devastating disease, and repeated rape.  
Providing a decent life for one's own children, the deepest wish for most 
women worldwide, is nearly impossible in the unstable environment of a 
civil war.  Education, health care, proper nutrition, peace, safety, care-
free play, and appropriate stimulation are longed for treasurers, often 
out of reach of women along the border.  
Other women faced the experience of internal displacement, hiding out in 
the jungle, not knowing where to go next, or how to find food or 
medicine for the hungry and sick.
Among 60,000 refugees along the Thai-Burma borders, most of them are 
women.  They are suffering from various difficulties and hardships.  
lives are familiar with these difficulties.  The death rate of women 
refugees is very high.  They died of mostly from readily preventable or 
treatable diseases like malaria, diarrhoea, cholera and because of 
of essential medicines and lack of medical treatment.  Some were died of 
malnutrition.  Women and their children in those refugee camps are in a 
hopeless condition.  Because most of their children were infected certain 
diseases since they were born.  The children were lack of education as 
they have to carry their families' burden since they were young.
On the other hand, as most of their mothers were uneducated, they do not 
know how to bring up their children to higher standard, including right 
These children were grown up and enjoyed among the animals bred by 
their parents instead of concentrating on education.  Because of lack of 
teachers in their areas where civil was is waging on, and of their 
and relatives' persuasion to go to school.
When these women could no longer bear such sufferings, they usually 
leave the camps to seek for better jobs which can earn for their living 
their households as well.  They work as cheap labours -- housewives, 
brick-layers and workers at construction site -- where they can get only 
small wages.  Although they had to work very hard, not only their wages 
were exploited but also they were oppressed.  These injustice social 
system and unfair wage have been paving the way to be prostitutes.
Women Trafficking, HIV and AIDS
A junta officer in 1992 told a UN representative that in Rangoon alone, 
about 1,000 people were HIV positive.  It is possible that AIDS reached 
Burma from the border towns of Thailand, through the international trade 
in women trafficking and heroin.
These are about 40,000 women and children, mostly aged between 10 and 
16, have been kidnapped in Burma and trafficked to the brothels in 
Thailand.  With the collusion of police and military personnel from 
Burma and Thailand, traffick young victims across to Thai border towns 
like Chiang Mai, Mae Sai, Kanchanaburi, and Ranong, where they were 
sold at the price of USD 560 and forced into prostitution.  The slave-
prostitutes include ethnic Burmese and other tribal people.   The girls 
were forced to have sex under life-threatening conditions and tortured 
frequently.  When the owner knew their attempt to escape, they were 
confined in a room at basement, without giving any food, beaten and 
sometimes even killed.  They are fed only a little food (1 plate of rice 
curry) for two meals.
When their customers did not come on certain days, they were forced to 
work at their owner's house as slaves.  They were not spare from working 
even at the time of menstruation.  Those who are suspected of HIV 
afBurma. It involves using the political power at hand to apply pressure 
order to stop all sales of arms to Slorc; establish international trade 
economic sanctions - persuading ASEAN and private companies to cease 
investments, boycott tourism to Burma; remove Slorc from Burma's UN 
seat and encourage other organisations to deny Slorc's participation; end 
all aid to Slorc-connected groups, working instead with the provisional 
government; insist on the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and the 
recognition of the elected government It is, however, naive to think that 
change to democracy will bring with it the equality of women. Those 
fighting for the rights of women should emphasize changes which 
encourage the participation of women at the foundational level of the 
future, democratic Burma.
The World Conference on Human Rights stated, "The human rights of 
women and of the girl child are an inalienable, integral and indivisible 
part of universal human rights. The full and equal participation of women 
in the political, civil, economic, social and cultural life, at the 
regional and international levels, and the eradication of all forms of 
discrimination on grounds of sex are priority and all forms of sexual 
harassment and exploitation, including trafficking, are incompatible with 
the dignity and worth of the human person, and must be eliminated."(33) 
The participation of women in decision making at all levels is crucial. 
areas like, the earlier mentioned, birth control, the participation of 
women in government policy would allow them to make their own 
decisions without outside intervention / interference which may not suit 
their societal needs or customs. Women's advocacy groups should take 
advantage of Slorc's 'open door' policy and establish contact and 
with women. The Myanmar Council of Churches or the Maternal and 
Child Welfare Association are possible starting points. UNICEF, UN 
Development Programme, World Vision and Medecins Sans Frontieres-
Holland are also working inside Burma and, while internal aid is not 
recommended, these may be agencies through which contact can be made 
with women inside Burma to share insight, ideas and tactics which have 
lead to empowerment for other groups. Whyare women absent from the 
ranks of Burma's decision and policy makers? Are Burmese women aware 
of the suffering of their sisters and could some of their influence be 
directed at alleviating the situation?
Dialogue with women at the borders should be much easier since the 
Karen, Kachin, Arakan and others have existing organizations. They are 
also in a good position to pursue political and economic leadership, 
their history and the preoccupation of men with the ongoing civil war. 
Encouraging women to form co-ops for weaving and other handicrafts is 
good but it may serve them much better in the long run to teach 
management, community organization, economics and political policy. 
Many of the women are already aware of much of this but need to be 
recognized and encouraged. Other women may need to be asked to lay 
down the needle work and study development or policy making. Burma's 
ethnic groups will play a vital part in the future of Burma and it is of 
utmost importance that women be involved now before male power once 
again becomes entrenched in the new regime. This is not to negate efforts 
like gardening, weaving or other projects which may facilitate day to day 
survival but these also should be approached in ways that emphasize 
development rather than sustenance. Education in human rights should 
include specifics about the rights of women and information about rape 
and sexual harassment. The stigma attached to rape must be removed if it 
is to be reported and dealt with like other forms of violence. Rape is 
related to the sexual act of lovemaking or eroticism. It is a criminal 
assault which emphasizes male control and punishment of women. While 
the rape of women during wars is not new it is nonetheless in violation 
every acceptable rule of conduct. Not unrelated to this is the sale of 
young girls and forced prostitution. Again it is those most powerless who 
suffer the effects of the corruption of those in positions of power and 
is not limited to pimps, brothel owners and assorted officials. There is 
vast quantity of information about the motivations, situations, ages, 
conditions, etc. of the young women but who are the men who are 
creating the demand for the exploitation of these children? Why do men 
have sex with girls who are being held against their will and forced to 
'service' them? This too, is rape - it is the premeditated physical 
of someone who is denied the option of dissent and in this area the Slorc 
can not be held responsible. While it is true that economic difficulties 
a major reason that women are seduced into the trade by various means, it 
is must also be recognized that a large market for them already exists. 
Those who participate in the sexual exploitation of children and young 
girls forced into prostitution and deem this to be part of male 'nature' 
deny any wrongdoing are is serious need of re-education or confinement. 
Sex with a child or anyone not willing to participate must be recognized 
by all, regardless of borders, as an act of violence with strict legal 
repercussions. Foreigners caught in such activities could immediately 
have their visa privileges revoked, extradited and prosecuted by their 
countries. Individual countries and international agencies must be 
pressured into adjusting policies and laws. Germany has made some 
headway by making it a prosecutable offence to have sex with a child in 
any country. Unfortunately it took the death of the child to provoke the 
required outrage, and outrage is what is needed to provoke any change in 
the system. As women we must stand together and voice our rage.
A much publicized but still vital area of protest is the continued 
detention of Aung San Suu Kyi who, in many -ways, symbolizes the 
oppression of women and others who are powerless in Burma. She writes 
about the fears that grip her country: fear of torture, death, poverty, 
isolation, etc.. "A most insidious form of fear is that which masquerades 
as common sense or even wisdom, condemning as foolish, reckless, 
insignificant of futile the small daily acts Of courage which help to 
preserve man's [woman's] self respect and inherent human dignity. "(34)  
The daily acts of courage are particularly applicable to Suu Kyi and 
other, less- renown, women. Suu Kyi's continuing commitment has been 
called "one of the most extraordinary examples of civil courage in Asia 
recent decades." (Nobel Peace Prize Committee) This must not go 
unrecognized by others who are fighting for the rights of women. We 
must continue to call for her unconditional release and for her 
installation as the leader of the National League for Democracy, Burma's 
elected governing body.
Appedix IV
By Nyein Han
Acknowledging AIDS to be a major problem, SLORC-run newspaper - 
so-called the New Light of Myanmar - on 12 July 1993 admitted that 47 
full-blown cases and more than 5,100 HIV carriers were identified in 
Burma at the end of 1992.
The number of Burmese infected with HIV is estimated at between 
300,000 and 400,000 said Daniel Tarantola, an AIDS specialist from the 
Harvard School of Public Health, who returned in the last week of July 
1993 from Burma after ended his eight-day-investigation-trip there.  The 
number is about the same as Thailand's one year ago and Burma could 
surpass the US in HIV infections in two years, he said.
He said that in Mandalay, one to two percent of new military recruits, 
about 9 percent of sex workers and around 80 percent of injected drug 
users have been founded to be infected with HIV.  HIV infection rates 
among pregnant women have reached 4 to 8 percent in one area near the 
Thai border, and 2 to 7 percent in another area in the South, he said.
The information on SLORC-run newspaper said that the Association 
Franco-Xavier Bangnoud agreed to give assistance to SLORC's AIDS 
prevention and anti-AIDS programs.
The reason for aid given by Tarantola is, "By applying political pressure 
on the few the world is penalizing the many."
We are very concerned about such kinds of assistance to SLORC because 
nearly all the assistance distributed by many International agencies have 
flooded into the pockets of military generals in Burma and fuel the on-
going civil war.  Although it has been claiming for the promotion for 
health care of the people for the time being, they abused all the 
in the military-run hospitals even though certain donor organizations 
intend it for the public.  Due to this, near all the hospitals in Burma 
running out of vital medicines 12 months a year so that many people have 
died of mostly from readily preventable or curable diseases.
Since it came to power, SLORC which got much money from foreign 
investments, development assistance aided by UNDP and UNICEF and 
by selling shares of SLORC-run Holding Limited, did not concentrate on 
the welfare of the people.  As a tactic for their new recruitment, SLORC 
not only neglects people's social welfare problem but also plunged them 
into economic chaos.  SLORC has not ncouraged any training that 
promotes public health and that educate people how to prevent the 
On the other side of the coin, SLORC has enough budget to feed its army 
which increased to 350,000 - doubled in 1988 - including the new 
members under SLORC's forced recruitment tactics and purchase 
weapons from foreign countries to equip the armed forces in order to 
suppress the people inside the country.  At the same time, SLORC is also 
rich enough in encouraging the military training for military men at all-
While the military top brasses become rich over night, people inside the 
country became poor and poor day by day.  It is unbelievable when one 
heard that peasants have no rice for their families.  It is the reality 
Burma.  Peasants have been forced to sell their crops at the rate and 
fixed by the SLORC so that they had to look for odd-jobs in order to get 
enough food for their family.  On that situation, some women who were 
eager to feed their parents were brought to the border towns of Burma in 
believing getting a job that can provide enough money, they were 
procured to be prostitutes with the collusion of the police and military 
personnel in Burma and Thailand border towns.
The 1991 Nobel Peace Laureate and the symbolic leader of the women, 
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, donated US$ 10,000 to the present Thai 
government for the education programs for these women.  She knows 
well how effective will be her donation to the Thai government rather 
than the SLORC.  Is there anybody, except the SLORC, who complain 
for her management of donation to the Thai government, instead of the 
regime in Burma?  Can anyone say that she does not love the people in 
EC also adopted a resolution on 28 October 1992 to increase aid 
programs for the training and employment for the Burmese women and 
through the Thai government. As all the EC member states know the 
situation inside the country well, they can calculate where their 
will go if they hand over to the SLORC directly.  They don't want their 
hands to be stained with the blood of innocent people in Burma. (DAWN 
Vol 4. No.4 Pg 40)
Appedix V
By Edith T. Mirante
Enchained by a military dictatorship which ruthlessly suppress dissent, 
Burma today is gripped by a silent AIDS epidemic.  Burma, mainland 
southeast Asia's largest nation, with an ethnically diverse population of 
some 42 million, is a country with only one newspaper, The Working 
People's Daily.  The muzzled Burmese press gives out little word of the 
presence of  AIDS, and foreign journalists and scientists are barred from 
investigating it.  But it is apparent that the people of Burma are 
a rapid spread of the disease, and that Burma is the conduit for the 
"AIDS route" which carries infection from Thailand to remote tribal areas 
of India and China.
It is possible that AIDS reached Burma from the border towns of 
Thailand, through the international trade in prostitutes and heroin.  In 
1991, it was estimated that 300,000 Thais were infected with the AIDS 
virus, and according to the World Health Organisation, up to 15,000 
Thais will have died from it by 1997.  Other projections ware higher, 
over a million predicted dead by the year 2000.  Intravenous drug abuse 
and prostitution are the major factors in AIDS infection in Thailand, 
an especially high rate along Thailand's northern border with Burma.  A 
study conducted in the northern Thai city of Chiangmai found that 70% 
of prostitutes who had been working for over a year tested positive for 
HIV, the AIDS precursor.
The AIDS route has found through mountainous northern Burma, to 
China's border reign Yunan, where heroin trafficking and prostitution 
have become rife in recent years.  493 Chinese had tested positive for 
HIV in mid-1991, and 397 of those were in Yunan.  Manipur, an isolated 
state of northeast India, neighbouring Burma, also has an AIDS epidemic, 
with 1,076 people testing positive for HIV in 1991, most of them are 
heroine addict.  Manipur is estimated to have over 15,000 heroin addicts, 
and India as a whole is an AIDS crisis country.
The people of Burma are being exposed to AIDS in several ways, 
including heroin injection, prostitution, medical procedures, and 
indigenous customs.  Burma is the world's primary producer of opium, 
the raw material for heroin.  Increasingly, opium is refined into heroin 
Burma, with military authorities turning a blind eye to the processing, 
actively engaged in trafficking the product.  Narcotics corruption up to 
the highest levels of the SLORC (State Law and Order Restoration 
Council) junta has been alleged.  SLORC officials openly allow known 
drug warlords like Pheung Kya-Shin and Lo Hsing Han to operate freely 
in the notorious Golden Triangle region, which is now under government 
control.  Increasingly, drug addicts are turning from opium smoking to 
injecting heroin.  Intravenous abuse is now common among labourers in 
the north, and young people in Burma's capital, Rangoon.  Student 
dissidents had led a 1988 uprising which nearly toppled Burma's 
dictatorship, but was suppressed by a "coup" in which the SLORC 
asserted its power.  A Burmese student who recently escaped to Thailand 
has reported, "Heroin can ... be bought openly at the Rangoon Institute 
Technology, the Institute of Medicine, and in every township of 
Rangoon.  The situation has gradually worsened since the military coup 
in September 1988.  The SLORC is less threatened by people on drugs 
than by youths agitated for political action to ensure democracy for the 
country."  Heroin addicts routinely group together, sharing single dirty 
needles, in Burma.
The traditionally high status of women in Burma, and the lack of flashy 
nightclubs, discos or massage parlors, has led some foreign visitors to 
believe that prostitution is nonexistent there.  But there are numerous 
brothels, and street prostitution is more and more common.  Additionally, 
there is large-scale trafficking of people from Burma, including young 
girls and boys, for prostitution in Thailand.  With the collusion of 
and military personnel from Burma and Thailand, gang bring young 
victims across to Thai border towns like Chiang Mai, Mae Sai, 
Kanchanaburi, and Ranong, where they are sold into forced prostitution 
for from US$ 100 to US$ 560.  The slave-prostitutes include ethnic 
Burmese from the south (some are immigration detainees brought out of 
Thai jails by brothel owners) and northern ethnic group like Shans and 
hill tribes people.  Imprisoned in the dark brothel rooms, speaking no 
Thai, the prostitutes from Burma have little chance for escape.  They are 
in demand because Thai customers perceive them as "AIDS Free", coming 
from a relatively closed country.  In reality, they do not remain AIDS 
for long.  Speaking at a seminar in Bangkok on "How to End Child 
Sexual Exploitation", the Deputy Commander of Thailand's Crime 
Suppression Division, Police Col. Bancha Charuchareet, commented, 
"These places are sometimes equipped with secret underground rooms.  
The girls are tortured and forced into prostitution.  The Burmese mostly 
come through the border on a day-pass permit.  We cracked down on a 
place in Ranong where these girls were locked in a house with a sign in 
front of it reading, "AIDS Free Zone".  Ironically, the Public Health 
Ministry officers gave them a medical check and found all of them had 
In June 1991, the Bangkok Post newspaper reported a raid on a brothel in 
Kanchanaburi, in which four young Burmese, including a 13 year old 
girl, were rescued and found to be "suffering from several diseases".  
public health camlong with U Ba Taw (Maung Thaw Ka), who later died in 
prison, and 41 
others on 20 July 1989 at the NLD headquarters, she was held in Insein 
Prison.  Ma Theingi was released from prison in 1993.  Rearrested along 
with U Kyi Maung on 2 June 1995.
        Daw Khin San Hlaing was born in WetletTownship, Irrawaddy 
District on 16 October 1956.  After passing the 10th standard 
examination in 1977, Daw Khin San Hlaing worked as a clerk (grade 11) 
in Wetlet.  She was a student at the university correspondence course in 
Mandalay from 1978 and obtained her LLB degree in 1982.  Daw Khin 
San Hlaing actively participated in the pro-democracy movement in 1988, 
joining the NLD.  She successfully contested the General Election in 
1990, winning a seat in Wetlet Township.  The authorities alleged that 
she attended a clandestine meeting called to form a temporary government 
in 1990.
        Ma Aye Yu Nwe served as a lower division clerk with the 
Myanmar Economic Bank (Thingangun) from 1987.  During the pro-
democracy movement in 1988, she took part in the demonstrations with 
the Worker's College Thamaga.  She re-joined the Thamaga in November 
1988.  At the time of her arrest, Ma Aye Yu Nwe was a Thamaga 
organiser.  She raised funds for the Thamaga, published information 
pamphlets and carried out organisational work.
        Ma Nan Wai Yi was born in 1967 in Rangoon.  She had been a 
second year Rangoon University chemistry student and was working as 
an Assistant Immigration Officer at the time of her arrest.  In the pro-
democracy movement in 1988 Nan Wai Yi took part in demonstrations 
together with the Workers College Thamaga.  She was a member of the 
Thamaga when it was reformed in October 1988.  Her duties included 
recruiting new members and fund-raising.  She published and distributed 
information pamphlets in August 1990.  The SLORC alleged that she 
allowed Yin Yin Phu (former ABSDF member) to spend the night at her 
house while she was fleeing Rangoon with Nay Win Aung, an 
aboveground ABSDF contact.
        Daw Shwe Wah Soe was born in Bassein (Pathein) on 1 August 
1962.  She passed the 10th standard examination from No 1 High School 
in Thayawaddy in 1982 before attending the Regional College No 1 at 
the Yezin Institute of Agriculture in 1985.  She was in charge of the 
Agriculture Corporation, Helgu Township in August 1985.  She served as 
Assistant Section Head of the news and information section at the 
Development Committee in 1987, before being appointed as an editor to 
the Myawaddy magazine.  After taking part in the pro-democracy 
movement in 1988, she was forced to resign  from her workplace.  From 
1988 to 1990 she worked as a tuition teacher and in 1990 she served with 
the PMK South Korean Company.  The authorities alleged that Daw 
Shwe Wah Soe failed to inform them of a number of matters, including 
the formation of the NCGUB.
        Daw Win May was born in Sagaing on 1 December 1940.  She 
passed the 7th standard examination from Rangoon Khitthit Private 
School in 1956 before leaving school.  Daw Win May joined the Training 
Depot of the Defence Services in Mingaladon and served as an instructor.  
She was promoted to the post of coporal in 1959 and attended the typing 
course (Myanmar), serving as a steno-typist with the Myanmar Ahthan 
(Burmese Broadcasting Service).
        During the pro-democracy movement in 1988, she was active in 
the Myanmar Ahthan Wunhtan Thamaga (BBS Servants Union) and took 
part in the demonstrations.  As a result f her actions, Daw Win May was 
forced to resign from her work-place.  The authorities alleged that she 
attended a clandestine meeting on the formation of a temporary 
government in 1990.
        Daw San San Win was born in Dedaye on 25 December 1945.  
She studied at the No 3 State High School in Dagon Township and 
passed the 10th standard examination at the Youth Affairs Night School 
(No 2 State High School) in Kyimyindine Township in 1967.  Daw San 
San Win obtained the Bachelor of Art (Law) degree from Rangoon 
University in 1972.  She attended a training course for apprentice 
for one year at the Supreme Court and served as an advocate.  In 1988 she 
participated in the demonstrations with the Lawyers Thamaga (Bar 
Council).  She successfully contested the General Election in 1990 for 
the NLD, winning a seat in Ahlon Township.  The authorities alleged that 
she attended a clandestine meeting called to form a temporary government 
in 1990.
        Daw Ohn Kyi was born in Kannar Village in Nahtogyi 
Township on 25 February 1952.  She attended the State High School in 
Myittha from 1962/63 to 1968/69 and completed tenth standard.  Daw 
Ohn Kyi studied at Taunggyi College from 1969/70 to 1970/71 and  
Mandalay University from 1971/72 where she graduated with a Bachelor 
of Science (Chemistry) degree from Mandalay Arts and Science 
University in 1972/73.  After having completed her education, Daw Ohn 
Kyi worked as a clerk at Myittha Township Judicial Body in 1974, 
passing the Higher Grade Pleadership examination in 1980.  She resigned 
from work at the end of July 1982 and worked as a private lawyer.
        In 1988, she participated in the demonstrations and joined the 
NLD, serving as Township organiser and Township committee secretary.  
She successfully contested the 1990 General Election in Myittha 
Township Constituency-1.  The authorities alleged that she attended a 
clandestine meeting called to form a temporary government in 1990.
        Daw San San was born in Ahlon Village in Monywa Township 
on 10 January 1930.  She passed the 10th standard examination from 
Monywa Township Mula-tan-lun (post primary) school in 1948, 
obtaining the Bachelor of Science (biology) degree from Rangoon 
University in 1954.  She served as a teacher with the Central High School 
in 1954 and as a demonstrator at Rangoon University in 1955.  Daw San 
San won the State Scholarship award and attended the training course on 
oceanography in Yugoslavia from 1955 to 1956.  She also served as a 
demonstrator to the Assistant Director of the Labour Department from 
1959 to 1988.
        During the pro-democracy movement in 1988, Daw San San 
chaired the Labour Directorate Worker's Thamaga.  As a result of her 
involvement in the demonstrations, she was forced to resign from her 
workplace.  A member of the NLD, she successfully contested the 
General Election in 1990, being elected as the Hluttaw (Parliament)  
representative for Seikkan Township Constituency.
        The authorities alleged that Daw San San attended a clandestine 
meeting on the formation of temporary government in 1990.  She also 
held discussion at her house with other elected NLD members. She was 
reportedly sentenced to twenty-five years imprisonment.
        On 19 January 1991, the authorities detained and questioned 
Daw Cho Cho Kyaw Nyein, General Secretary of the legally registered 
AFPFL.  Her father U Kyaw Nyein had been a key founder of the 
AFPFL, which was Burma's main political party in the 1950s.  She had 
been detained and questioned once before, in July 1989.
        On 26 January 1991, Major General Khin Nyunt, SLORC's 
"Secretary One", alleged that Daw Cho Cho Kyaw Nyein had been in 
contact with Saw Sanda Nwe, a lawyer with the ABFSU.  Saw Sanda 
Nwe had sought the assistance of Daw Cho Cho Kyaw Nyein in "sending 
agitative pamphlets" to foreign embassies.  Khin Nyunt also alleged that 
in late 1990 Daw Cho Cho Kyaw Nyein had managed arrangements for 
Saw Sanda Nwe to meet Shwe Hti, messenger of the banned student 
organisation, the ABSDF.  Daw Cho Cho Kyaw Nyein, Khin Nyunt 
claimed, had given Shwe Hti some money after he "begged" her for help.  
He further argued that the AFPFL's joint General Secretary U Saw Lwin 
had been involved in attempting to arrange meeting between Daw Cho 
Cho Kyaw Nyein and people "who had connections with Shwe Hti."  
Legal action was being taken against Daw Cho Cho Kyaw Nyein and U 
Saw Lwin for having "carried out above-ground and underground 
activities to cause unrest and instability."  Daw Cho Cho Kyaw Nyein 
reportedly was sentenced to seven years imprisonment.  Released in 1992 
under an amnesty programme.
        Ma Ni Ni Dun is believed to be in her later 20s and worked in 
medical treatment.  She is said to have graduated with a degree in 
economics from Rangoon Institute of Economics.  According to one 
report she may have been among a group of 37 people arrested in 
Paukkaung who were released after 28 days.  However, other sources 
believe this group is still being detained.
        Daw San San Htay was said by opposition sources to have been 
arrested in January 1991, even though "she had already stopped her 
political activities".  She had been a member of the NLD in the 
Kammayut Township of Rangoon, and is believed to have been detained 
by the SLORC authorities in her township.
        She was a aughter of U Ba Gyun and living at 340, 84th street 
Maha Aung Mye quarter of Mandalay.  She was arrested along with five 
other activists and detained for distributing anti-government leaflets in 
Mandalay.  They were detained in Mandalay Prison. (Source: DAWN Pg 
18, Vol 3. No 5, Nov 91)  
        Ma Yi Yi Myint, a Mathematics student at Mandalay 
University, was arrested with three other people in Mandalay in 1993.  Yi 
Yi Myint was distributing a statement by U Shwe Htoo when she was 
arrested in Mandalay.  They were distributing leaflets which the SLORC 
claimed "aimed at obstructing the National Convention and undermining 
peace and tranquillity in the country".  The three are alleged to have 
written the "propaganda leaflets" and to have mailed them to 
"universities, colleges and schools in major cities and factories and 
offices, and distributed leaflets in busy places".
        The authorities reported that they had been sentenced to three 
years imprisonment, but it is not known what laws they were charged 
under or where they are being detained.
        Ma Thida Aye was accused of publishing anti-government 
statements on pamphlets.  She bound 500 copies into book from at the 
house of Hla Min, where they later sold copies of the pamphlets.  When 
the profits from the sale of pamphlets were divided among themselves, 
each of them earned about K 200, the authorities alleged.
        Daw Khin Mar Aye was arrested with two men in Rangoon.  
The authorities explained that they made the arrests after receiving 
information that "plans (were) being made to write and distribute 
propaganda leaflets with intent to destroy the peace and tranquillity of 
the country".  The authorities alleged that the three were in possession 
propaganda leaflets which they had written.  The leaflets were written in 
the name of the People's Workers Unity League and the Lower Burma 
Workers Unity League and entitled "To fight for democratic human 
        Ma Khin Htwe, age 32, first met U Hla Pe when she attended his 
mathematics tuition class in 1979.  After the pro-democracy movement in 
1988 she was in contact with the activists U Ba Tint and Daw Khin 
Kyway through U Hla Pe.  When U Hla Pe fled to the Thai-Burmese 
border in 1990 as part of a group of exiled elected representatives who 
later formed the NCGUB, Ma Khin Htwe acted as an intermediary, 
passing on letters from U Hla Pe to U Ba Tint.  Before her arrest, she 
planning to join the underground People's Democratic Front.  
(Postscript:  U Hla Pe, NCGUB Minister of Information, died under 
mysterious circumstances in Bangkok, 1993.)
        A medical doctor and short story writer (Ma Thi Da -
Sanchaung), age 27, working in a philanthropic Muslim Hospital before 
being arrested with ten other political activists on 7 August 1993.  All 
them were allegedly held without either legal representation or contact 
with close associates until their trial started on 27 September 1993.  
SLORC was forced to adjourn the hearing after a large crowd turned up 
at the court.
        Ma Thi Da was a close associate of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi 
before the latter was placed under house arrest in July 1989.  Ma Thi Da 
became well-known for her short stories.  She has written novels, all of 
which, with the exception of her latest novel, the SLORC has refused 
permission to publish. Although the SLORC has permitted the 
publication of her latest novel, it has been banned.  After a closed 
trial on 
15  October 1993, she was sentenced to twenty years' imprisonment for 
"contact with illegal organisations, endangering public peace, and 
distributing banned literature to foreign-based opposition groups." She 
being held in Insein Prison.
        Daw San San Nwe, writer, member of NLD Central Committee, 
was a well-known journalist and known under the pen name San San 
Nwe Tharrawaddy. Daw San San Nwe is the author of over five hundred 
short stories, twelve novels, and over a hundred poems. She was arrested 
in July 1989 with the allegation of insisting unrest and released in 
1990. She and her daughter, Myat Mo Mo Tun, were re-arrested on 4 
August 1994 with the allegation of having links with Democratic 
opposition groups and giving anti-SLORC information to foreign media 
and diplomats. Myat Mo Mo Tun was a computer science student at 
Rangoon University and also part time compositor at a printing press.  On 
October 6, she was sentenced to ten years in prison.(Source: ABSDF/ 
Inside Sources)
ABFSU           All Burma Federation of Students Unions
ABSDF           All Burma Students' Democratic Front
AFPFL           Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League
ABPWSL  Unknown
ARIF-S          Arakan Rohingya Islamic Front - Supporter
BDGF            Burma Democratic Guerrilla Front
BRF             Unknown 
BSPP            Burma Socialist Programme Party
DPNS            Democratic Party for New Society
GS              General Secretary
LBWUL   Lower Burma Workers Unity League 
MP              Member of Parliament
NCGUB   National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma
NFFB            Unknown
NLD             National League for Democracy
PDF             People's Democratic Front
PLP             Patriotic League for Peace
PWUL            People's Workers Unity League
RASU            Rangoon Arts and Science University
SLORC           State Law and Order Restoration Council
UG              Underground
WY              Women and Youth
YSUA            Youth and Students' Union Association
        At the funeral of former premier U Nu in Rangoon on February 20, 
50 people were rounded up.  Of them the nine students were sentenced to 
seven year prison terms in late April with the accusation that they 
delivered a eulogy at the funeral.  Among those were three female 
students -- Aye Aye Moe, Moe Kalayar and Cho Nwe Oo.  (Source:  
ABSDF/ inside sources)
The Plight of Burmese Women
The Plight of Burmese Women